Actor-turned-politician Sunny Deol (Photo Source: PTI)
Actor-turned-politician Sunny Deol on Friday knocked the Punjab high court’s door, anticipating "misuse of official machinery" by the ruling Congress in the state. Deol, the BJP candidate from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat, also sought adequate measures, including deployment of additional paramilitary forces, to ensure free and fair polling in Punjab. Speaking to media, advocate Pankaj Jain, the counsel for Deol, said, "We moved the court because we feared the official machinery could be misused in the elections by the Congress”.
Citing the incidents of poll-related violence in the Gurdaspur constituency during 2018 panchayat polls across the state, Deol approached the court to declare the seat as "super sensitive". The petition was filed before a division bench of justices Daya Chaudhary and Sudhir Mittal, who further sought report from the Election Commission, asking about the measures being taken to ensure free and fair polls in Gurdaspur.
Jain argued before the court that the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat is a prestigious constituency, not only because Deol is a public figure, but also the candidate, he is contesting against is the state president of the Congress. On the other hand, the counsel representing the Election Commission informed the court that 24 companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) would be deployed at 866 polling booths in the Lok Sabha seat.
As many as 111 polling booths have been categorised as "critical" and 467 as "vulnerable", the poll panel’s counsel added. At 1014 booths, Micro Observes have been appointed and 1034 booths will be covered by webcasting. Besides, three General Observers have been appointed, the court was informed. In many booths, multiple security measures, including adequate deployment of state police force, have also been undertaken, the EC counsel stated.
Therefore, the division bench of the Punjab high court, in the view of the action taken by the Election Commission, disposed off Deol's petition, saying no further direction is required to be issued regarding the same. "The court was satisfied with the measures being taken by the Election Commission for Gurdaspur constituency," Punjab's Additional Chief Electoral Officer Sibin C told reporters.
Deol, who has been inducted into the BJP in late April, is pitted against Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar, who is the sitting MP from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat. Polling for the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, including Gurdaspur, is scheduled to be held in the last phase of general elections on Sunday, May 19. The counting of votes for the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections will be taken up on May 23.